Bahbah: Poor Trump!
By: Bishara Bahbah/Arab America Featured Columnist
He (Trump) fell into Bibi Netanyahu’s trap just like George W. Bush before fell into Netanyahu’s trap and invaded Iraq. At the time, Bush and his neo-con advisors did Israel’s bidding by invading and occupying Iraq to rid it of the non-existent weapons of mass destruction. The war caused the utter destruction of an entire country, the loss of one million Iraqi lives, 5,000 US deaths and thousands of injured US soldiers, years of war, and the squandering of hundreds of billions of dollars of the American people’s hard-earned money.
Trump’s announcement that he is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal which was negotiated over several years between Iran, major Western powers, China and Russia, will go down in history as one of the stupidest mistakes by a US president.
The question that begs itself is: When will US politicians learn that what is in Israel’s perceived interest is not necessarily in US interests? Clearly, nothing was learned from Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
In my view, the consequences of Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal could be summed as follows:
1. It will clearly create a serious political rift.
The rift will not only be in the Western alliance: the United States, Germany, France, and Great Britain, but could also exacerbate the relations between the US and China which happens to exercise considerable influence over North Korea.
2. Korea could pull out from the anticipated summit between its leader and Trump.
Why should any country in the world, including North Korea trust the United States if a change in administrations means a complete abandonment of US international obligations?
3. A possible Russian confrontation.
Russia, another party to the deal, has a significant military presence in Syria and could become directly and indirectly involved in the crossfire should Iran and Israel engage in a military confrontation.
4. Iran has no reason to exercise restraint.
Israel has been pounding Iranian military installations in Syria and Iran has been exercising restraint by not responding but awaiting primarily the outcome of Trump’s decision on the nuclear deal and the elections in Lebanon. Now that the United States has withdrawn from the deal and its allies won in Lebanon, Iran has no reason to exercise restraint.
5. With the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has been freed from any incentive to exercise military restraint toward Israel.
Any Israeli provocation toward Iran could unleash an exchange of fire, more likely missiles, between Israel and Iran, initially from Syrian soil. There are confirmed reports that Israelis are opening up their bomb shelters in northern Israel in anticipation of some type of type of Iranian military retaliation.
6. Should Israel decide to carry out a preemptive strike on Iranian soil, God help all of us.
The Iranians could fire a barrage of missiles toward Tel Aviv and the doors of hell will open up. After all, Iran and the Ayatollah’s are neither Iraq nor a weakened Saddam Hussein who had to endure an initial US invasion, a UN embargo, and no-fly zones. Iran has strategic depth and millions of potential fighters.
7. If Iran wishes, it does not even have to respond directly to Israeli provocations.
Iran could unleash Hezbollah in Lebanon and, potentially, Hamas in Gaza, against Israel. How many military fronts can Israel cope with? If the war against Hezbollah in 2006 is any indication, Israel could be in serious trouble.
8. Lest we forget.
Iran’s menacing presence in Yemen and Iraq could embroil Arab Gulf states in a heightened military confrontation that could harm the US’ Arab allies.
9. $120 a barrel?
And, what would stop Iran if it felt that it was under an existential threat from bombing oil tankers in the Gulf and shutting down the Strait of Hormuz? Would the American public that voted for Trump like to see the price of oil jump to $120 a barrel?
All in all, Trump’s move to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal was a bad move, at best, and a disastrous one, at worst.
Once again, Netanyahu (the fox) got his way with a naïve and an uneducated US president (the hen) much to the detriment of US strategic interests in a most vital part of the world.
Prof. Bishara Bahbah was a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Peace Talks on Arms Control and Regional Security. He taught at Harvard and was the associate director of its Kennedy School’s Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Arab America.